The Uncertain Future of the Horseless Carriage

With the news about Amazon lending Kindle Books to libraries still reverberating across the library and publishing blogospheres (see Jason Griffey, Bobbi Newman, Sarah Houghton-Jan, and the Overdrive blog, in addition to the Amazon Press Release, for starters), Fast Company, among others, asks if it means the end of local libraries, as if we’re all buggy whip wholesalers at the turn of the 20th century, wandering clueless by the Horseless Carriage dealership.

Libraries have been dealing with online databases, ebooks, and other downloadable media for years, and yet, every time a story like this comes along, the media acts like librarians are whistling past the graveyard, completely unaware that our professional deaths are imminent.  We all know this isn’t true but why is the message not penetrating back into the mainstream culture?  Part of the problem, of course, it that “The Death of Libraries” makes for a catchy headline and tasty, tasty link bait.  But is it also a reflection of the Echo Chamber that librarians tend to live in, where we’re not getting our voices heard outside our own colleagues’ ears?

It’s especially important in this day and age, with library budgets being cut to the bone, for civilians to understand what we do and why we do it.  Ned PotterBobbi Newman (her again??) and Patrick Sweeney have written on the topic of escaping the echo chamber and offered their own solutions and challenges.

I have my own addition to the cause which I hope to unveil soon, once I’ve gotten my ducks in a row.  I hope you’ll join me in generating your own solutions to make the cause of libraries known far and wide.

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One response to “The Uncertain Future of the Horseless Carriage

  1. Ms. Yingling May 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I have been panicking a bit about eReaders in my school library, so I will try to remember the phrase “uncertain future of horseless carriage” and use it as my mantra when I am hyperventilating. I imagine that film strip projectors were treated with suspicion at first as well. It is going to take a lot of convincing to make people realize that just because there are eBooks, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need librarians.

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